ASHLAND, Ky. – Holy Family’s 1971 basketball team is one of the best in school history, one of 10 teams that reached the 16th Region championship game and a surprise finalist in the 1970 Ashland Invitational Tournament.
The 71 Irish were matched against Ted Esders and the 1962 Holy Family team that won 27 games under coach Jack Gossett in the 16th Region simulation series Sunday night.
It was expected to be a shootout although 71 coach Bill Carroll’s goal, as always, was to control the tempo. They did that in methodical fashion in the first half, leading 32-23 as they sliced up the 62 Irish with backdoor cuts, double screens that led to easy layups.
But the biggest edge the 71 Irish had was 6-foot-5 Roy Stewart in the middle and he controlled the paint with 10 rebounds.
What the 71 Irish didn’t count on was the offensive firepower of the 62 Irish, who began hitting from everywhere in the second half. It was a sight to behold as Esders and Frank Burns started launching.
“We played a lot of good teams in 71, including Louisville Male in the AIT finals (an 84-44 loss), but these guys from 62 could play,” Carroll said. “I was never one for that kind of basketball but it was either play their style or lose in the second half after Esders and Burns caught fire for them.”
Early in the second half the 71 Irish’s lead ballooned to 46-29 after six consecutive points from Fred Stapleton, including a 3-pointer from NBA range. Coach Carroll was spinning around looking for a sub as soon as Stapleton was lining up to shoot.
“That’s not what we do,” he told Stapleton as he came to the bench. “That kind of shot is not the kind we’re looking to shoot. Sit there and think about it.”
“I might have got a little excited there,” Stapleton said later.
The 71 Irish were 3-for-13 on 3-pointers, a nice feature for them, but none were longer than the 23-footer from Stapleton. Gary Lynch made all three of the triples on four attempts.
“Coach Carroll never complained about Gary’s shots,” Stapleton said.
Once they built the 17-point lead, it looked like it was going to be an easy cruise to the finish line. However, the 62 Irish started warming up. Esders and Burns took turns hitting bombs but the 71 Irish kept pace and led 60-49 inside the first minute of the fourth quarter.
“They were having trouble stopping us but we were having trouble stopping them too,” Gossett said. “Stewart just dominated us in the paint and coach Carroll’s teams are all so fundamentally sound. This was no exception.”
Stewart was five inches taller than any of the 62 starters. Dave Brislin hurt them inside too with 17 points and eight rebounds. Stapleton led the Irish with 20 points while Stewart and Brown added 11 points apiece.
The 71 Irish were leading 63-54 with 5 ½ minutes remaining but an 11-0 run from the 62 Irish put them ahead for the first time since early in the first quarter at 65-63. Esders finished the run with an 18-footer with his toe on the line at the top of the key.
The 62 team fared better with 3-pointers, going 7-for-20. “I’m not sure we knew what we were doing with that shot, but I was glad we had them,” Gossett said.
Stewart broke the scoring drought with an inside move and Lynch followed with his third triple to make it 68-65 in favor of the 71 Irish. Two free throws from Bill Thompson pulled the 61 Irish within 68-67 but that was as close as they would get as Brislin scored six of the last eight points including four free throws to lock up the win by a score of the last six points in a 76-73 victory.
“Play good defense, work for the good shot, make free throws and take care of the ball,” Carroll said. “That will win a lot of games and it did again tonight.”
Stapleton scored 24 and Burns 22 while Francis Weinfurtner added 10 points.
“That’s a great Holy Family team,” Gossett said. “I’m proud we could hang with them as well as we did.”
Holy Family’s 1962 team went 27-6, won the Eastern Kentucky Conference Tournament and the Catholic Invitational. They were eliminated in the district tournament by Ashland 81-64. During the AIT, the Irish fell only 70-69 to the Tomcats, who finished as state runners-up that season.
Holy Family’s 1971 team finished 25-12 and reached the championship game of the 16th Region Tournament where the Irish fell to Ashland 68-58. They stunned the Tomcats in the AIT and reached the finals of that tournament before losing soundly to Louisville Male.
1971 HOLY FAMILY (76) – Stapleton 4-14 12-13 20, Brislin 6-14 5-5 17, Lynch 3-7 0-0 9, Stewart 5-8 1-2 11, Brown 1-6 0-0 2, Layne 5-7 1-1 11, Weis 1-3 1-2 3, Mantle 1-3 1-3 3. FG: 26-63. FT: 21-26. 3FG: 3-13 (Stapleton 0-3, Brislin 0-5, Stewart 1-2, Layne 1-1, Weis 1-2, Mantle 1-3). Rebounds: 45 (Stapleton 4, Brislin 8, Lynch 6, Stewart 10, Brown 3, Layne 5, Weis 5, Mantle 4). Assists: 14 (Stapleton 7, Brislin 1, Lynch 1, Srewart 3, Weis 1). PF: 24. Turnovers: 19.
1962 HOLY FAMILY (73) – Weinfurtner 2-8 4-5 10, Burns 10-17 0-3 22, Esders 6-15 10-12 24, Saller 3-7 1-2 7, Tamme 1-7 0-0 3, Friel 1-3 1-2 3, Thompson 1-4 2-2 4. FG: 24-62. FT: 18-26. 3FG: 7-20 (Weinfurtner 2-3, Burns 2-5, Esders 2-4, Saller 0-1, Tamme 1-7). Rebounds: 33 (Weinfurtner 5, Burns 3, Esders 9, Saller 5, Tamme 6, Friel 1, Thompson 4). Assists: 11 (Weinfurtner 1, Burns 1, Esders 5, Saller 2, Friel 2). PF: 20. Turnovers: 15.
1971 HOLY FAMILY 15 17 26 18 – 76
1962 HOLY FAMILY 11 12 26 24 – 73